US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in GROUND WATER-Vol. 35, No.2-March-April 1997


The Passaic Formation consists of gradational sequences of mudstone, siltstone, and sandstone, and is a principal aquifer in central New Jersey. Ground-water flow is primarily controlled by fractures interspersed throughout these sedimentary rocks and characterizing these fractures in terms of type, orientation, spatial distribution, frequency, and transmissivity is fundamental towards understanding local fluid-transport processes. To obtain this information, a comprehensive suite of geophysical logs was collected in 10 wells roughly 46 m in depth and located within a .05 km2 area in Hopewell Township, New Jersey. A seemingly complex, heterogeneous network of fractures identified with an acoustic televiewer was statistically reduced to two principal subsets corresponding to two distinct fracture types: (1) bedding-plane partings and (2) high-angle fractures. Bedding-plane partings are the most numerous and have an average strike of N84° Wand dip of 20° N. The high-angle fractures are oriented subparallel to these features, with an average strike of N79° E and dip of 71 0 S, making the two fracture types roughly orthogonal. Their intersections form linear features that also retain this approximately east-west strike. Inspection of fluid temperature and conductance logs in conjunction with flowmeter measurements obtained during pumping allows the transmissive fractures to be distinguished from the general fracture population. These results show that, within the resolution capabilities ofthe logging tools, approximately 51 (or 18 percent) of the 280 total fractures are water producing. The bedding-plane partings exhibit transmissivities that average roughly 5 m2/day and that generally diminish in magnitude and frequency with depth. The high-angle fractures have average transmissivities that are about half those of the bedding-plane partings and show no apparent dependence upon depth. The geophysical logging results allow us to infer a distinct hydrogeologic structure within this aquifer that is defined by fracture type and orientation. Fluid flow near the surface is controlled primarily by the highly transmissive, subhorizontal bedding-plane partings. As depth increases, the high-angle fractures apparently become more dominant hydrologically.